Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular bacteria that grow in eukaryotic cells and cause a wide spectrum of diseases. They can establish persistent infections, are mitogenic in vitro, promote polyclonal cell proliferation in vivo and induce resistance to apoptosis in infected cells-properties that might contribute to tumorigenesis. In fact, Chlamydophila psittaci (Cp) has been linked to the development and maintenance of ocular adnexal marginal zone B-cell lymphoma (OAMZL). In this indolent malignancy, Cp is transported by monocytes and macrophages and causes both local and systemic infection. Cp elementary bodies are viable and infectious in the conjunctiva and peripheral blood of patients with OAMZL. Bacterial eradication with antibiotic therapy is often followed by lymphoma regression. Despite recent advances in the understanding of this bacterium-lymphoma association, several questions remain unanswered. For instance, prevalence variations among different geographical areas and related diagnostic and therapeutic implications remain a major investigational issue. We will focus on clinical and therapeutic implications of chlamydial infections in patients with lymphomas and summarize the current knowledge on the association between Cp infection and OAMZL. Available data on the epidemiology, biology and pathogenesis of this association are analyzed and new investigative and clinical approaches are discussed.
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